Micro Switch celebrates 75 years of sensors

Spotlighting longevity, durability and impact on the industry, Honeywell celebrated the 75th anniversary of its Micro Switch technology with a gathering of employees, executives and media at its facility in Freeport, IL. The day included a historical review of sensors and switches and tours of production facilities.


Spotlighting longevity, durability and impact on the industry, Honeywell celebrated the 75th anniversary of its Micro Switch technology with a gathering of employees, executives and media at its facility in Freeport, IL. The day included a historical review of sensors and switches and tours of production facilities.

One of the first Micro Switch products, the V3, was developed during World War II and named to represent “victory.” V3 switches are still manufactured at the facility in Freeport on seven automated production lines.

“This is a very special milestone for our industry, as the Micro Switch is one of the major contributing factors improving industrial productivity,” said Beth Wozniak, president of Honeywell Sensing and Control (S&C). “This is the story of how an invention 75 years ago built a very successful business.” Honeywell S&C is now employs more than 6,000 people in more than 100 countries.

Brad Kautzer, vice president of electromechanical products at Honeywell S&C, said the first Micro Switch was developed in 1932 by Philip K. McGall, a mechanic at C. F. Burgess Laboratories Inc. in Madison, WI.

Unable to find switches with stable operating conditions for its chicken brooders, the company sought to develop its own and the first precision snap-action basic switch was invented for the close-tolerance requirements of the equipment.

The Micro Switch came into being, continued Kautzer, “because of the need to precisely operate a chicken brooder, and 75 years later it is still found in many applications. It is a simple, elegant design that caught on because it offered benefits of size, weight, precision and reliability.” Although materials have improved, the initial device has remained the same.

Wozniak, who has been S&C president for 18 months, told Control Engineering that she predicts a healthy economic future for the product. “It is a great business to be in today,” she said, citing the company’s local design and global manufacturing capabilities as contributors to the product’s success.

Incorporated in 1937, Micro Switch evolved, and Honeywell bought the company in 1950, primarily for integration into HVAC products. Honeywell now makes more than 120 million Micro Switches annually.


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